According to a statement from the United Mine Workers of America yesterday, workers are in strike training this week preparing to walk off the job at 12.01am local time on Wednesday, April 4 at Emerald and Cumberland Coal Resources, both in Pennsylvania, and the Wabash mine in Illinois. The group is citing “employer unfair labour practices” as the reason for the strike.
Foundation first responded to a claim by the union that although the mines are operated by the same company they are treated as separate entities.
“Each of the affiliates is a separate and distinct legal entity that has owned and operated a separate mine for decades,” the company said.
“The Cumberland and Emerald mines are large, state-of-the-art longwall operations in Pennsylvania. The Wabash mine is a continuous miner operation in Illinois in need of a significant capital infusion to upgrade its facilities.”
The operator also said that while the union claims talks for a new contract have not occurred, it has actually been in discussions since last January to negotiate a new deal.
“Moreover, as part of the bargaining, Cumberland and Emerald notified the union in February that they were both prepared to sign the 2007 National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement,” Foundation said.
However, its Illinois pillar operation may be handled differently.
“Wabash, which lost more than $US26 million in calendar year 2006, will require significant cost reductions in order to justify investing the capital necessary to operate the mine profitably,” the company said.
“Wabash has provided the UMWA information on the pertinent economics and issues it faces.”
Foundation human resources senior vice-president Michael Peelish spoke on behalf of the trio of mines in a statement Wednesday: “The companies have been responsive to the UMWA’s information requests, and we believe the union has the documentation necessary to continue to bargain effectively.
“The companies are prepared to respond appropriately to the National Labor Relations Board regarding these allegations.”
He added that negotiations are continuing with the union and that the company is “prepared to stay at the table until a mutually agreeable outcome is reached”